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Russian lithographic portrait of the 19th century

22 November, 2012 г.

The new exhibition "Russian lithographic portrait of the 19th century" is opened at the State Hermitage museum.
The exposition displays 150 portraits from the State Hermitage Museum’s lithographic collection for the first time. It reflects key stages in the development of lithographic art and acquaints viewers with national and international artists that have made prints of the Russian imperial family, statesmen, soldiers, society women, artists and other members in Russian society.

The formation of the State Hermitage Museum collection goes back to the first appearance in Russia in the mid 1810s of a new form of printed art — lithography. An inventory of lithographic portraits made in 1830 was only held in the Winter Palace and already included more than 700 items. At present the State Hermitage Museum’s collection of Russian lithographic portraits is one of the largest museum collections.
The first experiments in Russian lithography come from that period when the artistic world view was sentimental and was about to change to the romantic. An interest in the depth and individuality of the images is reflected in the appearance of small portrait sketches, stunning examples were made by A.O. Orlovsky, O.A. Kiprensky and K.P. and A.P. Brullov. These pictures, which have been taken from real life with energetic lines using Italian pencil, are impressive by their lightness in execution, demonstrating the romantic traits, accentuating the internal state of the model.
The earliest portraits on display at the exhibition are sheets from the album Engravings in Stone, Executed in St. Petersburg in November 1816 published first in Russia by the lithographic work shop of the Military-topographic Depot of the General Staff. Fourteen incunabula of Russian production show you the experiments of V. Forlop, P.F. Sokolov, Kh.F. Reder using the new technology.
The Society for Promotion of the Arts, founded in St. Petersburg in 1820, helped promote the art of lithography. Carrying out a broad programme to popularise art in Russia, the society recruited Academy graduates to make reproductions of paintings. In the second half of the 1830s, the society headed the publication of a large lithographic series dedicated to members of the Russian Academy. Under the overall direction of A.P. Sapozhnikov 56 portraits were made, which are identical in terms of composition and execution. These were to become important for the imagery of leading figures in Russian literature, art and science.
In the 1830s-1840s, lithographic portraits began to appear which had been commissioned by members of aristocratic families.
In other words the Hermitage is worth visiting because besides this exposition "Russian lithographic portrait of the 19th century" there are always a lot of other interesting exhibitions.
Don't forget that the museum works on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 10.30 till 18.00 and on Wednesday: 10.30-21.00

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